Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birthday Blessings

I’ve always heard that birthdays get less exciting as you get older. I LOVE birthdays… but this was the first year that I felt my birthday was just another day. The majority of the day was unremarkable and same ole, same ole. But there were three highlights to my birthday this year that still have me smiling days after.
I was hosting a program that afternoon at work, and two siblings came in and gifted me with hand-picked flowers and candy. My heart melted!

On my drive home from work, God sent his wishes with this beautiful view. (I stopped the car to take this picture, for the record.)

And I didn’t snap a picture of the last highlight because it didn’t last long, but my mom made an amazing lasagna dinner. I hate to send her home because it’s been so nice to enjoy her cooking, have one-on-one time, and just have the comfort that only a mom can provide around.

Of course, the best birthday gift of all will be arriving in February.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The big 2-8!

Today is my 28th birthday.

Credit: Shardayyy via Flickr
This has been the fastest year of adulthood for me. I feel like I just celebrated my 27th birthday a few weeks ago. But while it's been fast, it's been a wonderful year!

I'm halfway through my Master's degree. We purchased a second car after being a one-car family for five years. We moved into a larger apartment. We have been in good health. And, of course, the biggest news of all, we're expecting our daughter to arrive in 89 days. I've been blessed with an almost complication-free pregnancy, and the experience of pregnancy has been surreal and memorable all at once.

My birthday celebration is low-key. My mom is visiting, and she's planning on making her amazing lasagna as a birthday gift. I'm content to spending an evening at home with my family and a delicious meal. It doesn't get much better.

I'm thankful to have another year on this beautiful Earth, and I'm really excited for this next year. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Small Acts of Kindness

Hey there, Wendy!
Working with the public is, for the most part, pretty enjoyable. One of the best things about working in a public library is that it brings me out of my shell. It forces me to be an extrovert. Of course, when I come home, I'm completely introverted. But I meet some amazing people, hear incredible stories, and I like knowing that some of the small things I help others with can impact them in a big way.

With the good comes the not-so-good. Fortunately, the percentage of the not-so-good is very small, but those people tend to stick out in your mind more than the amazing people. I try my hardest to remember the good and forget the bad, and sometimes that's difficult. However, in the past week, I experienced two beautiful acts of kindness directed to the staff at my library from regular patrons.

One man has brought us two "deliveries" of carnations on two separate days. The carnations were beautiful and still in displayable condition, but the florist he works at was going to just discard them. Come to find out, he was making regularly deliveries of the day-old flowers to a local retirement home, and the past few days he rescued more flowers than usual. He comes to our library at least twice a week to use a computer and thought we could appreciate the flowers. Many of the bouquets made it to vases strategically placed around the library for everyone to enjoy, while some of the staff took bouquets home to enjoy.

Fast forward to the end of the week: A patron visited us at lunch time and brought everyone one on staff a small treat from Wendy's... just because she appreciates the work that we do. Seriously.

My faith in humanity is continuously renewed by these sweet acts of kindness and appreciation. Because while it's so easy to focus on the negative, focusing on the positive takes effort. The reward for the effort is worth it though. Most of us don't do what we do for the praise or recognition -  we do what we do because we love it.

Someone's appreciation for what you do just makes life that much more wonderful.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Black Light Party for Teens [Library Programming]

I can't express how grateful I am to the numerous librarians out there who blog about books and programs that they host. The wealth of information in the blogosphere for all types of librarians is incredible. I've been in my position as a youth services coordinator for three years now, and there are so many bloggers who have inspired me to try new things!

While I don't discuss much about my job, I have wanted to contribute something to the Internet to help out others. I've had programs that rocked and others that have been major fails. I've learned to not take the failures to heart because you have to try new things all the time. If it doesn't work, so what? You learn what you can from the failures and just move on. 

A colleague of mine had hosted a black light party for teenagers at her library, and she recommended that I give it a shot at my library. Getting teenagers into the library is like herding cats (at least, it feels like that to me sometimes). I love teenagers because they are passionate about whatever they set their minds to. I loved the library when I was a teen, but I never participated in any teen-focused events that were hosted. So when I was first hired for my job, I was terrified of working with teenagers. 

How in the world can I interact with this age group and provide good programming for them?

Three years in, I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on what teens in my community are looking for and what will bring them into the library. I'm so happy I took the recommendation of my colleague and host a black light party... it was a smashing success!

Neon paint art!

If you're looking to host a black light party for teenagers, here are the absolute essential materials you need:
  • Black light bulbs - I used nine bulbs plus a large black light a teen brought with her. Use what you need for the space you have, but you'll want good coverage. (And don't forget lamps, of course.)
  • Something to block out light if the room you're using has windows - We used black trash bags and they worked perfectly.
  • Neon paint - Don't buy glow-in-the-dark stuff. It just doesn't translate as well as neon paint does. I provided T-shirt paint and regular paint for whatever creative endeavors the teens embarked on.
  • Glow sticks and bracelets - These just add a fun element to the party.
  • Tonic water - If you're providing refreshments, tonic water glows under black light. I had plain tonic water and lemonade made with tonic water available. The teens thought it was really cool.
Twister under the black lights.
The party in full swing!
At our party, I provided arts and crafts, coloring pages (teens LOVED them!) with neon markers, the paints, snacks, and the game Twister. Most of the teens came wearing neon colors, which looked awesome under the lights. We decorated the room with neon balloons and neon paper crafts. I spent about $60 for the entire party (materials and snacks). We had 13 attendees, which is a really great number for my library. The teens I talked to afterwards said they had a great time and would want to do it again. That right there is what I consider success!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The #RoseVoxBox from Influenster

This is the third opportunity I've had to test out products from Influenster (here's what I've tested in the past: this and this). However, this was my first chance at an Influenster Vox Box. I was very excited to see the goodies offered and try out some new things.

The cool thing about the Vox Boxes is that you don't know what you're going to receive until the box arrives at your home. I received my Box this past week, and I was looking very forward to trying out the goodies offered.
The #RoseVoxBox offered up the following products to test (from bottom left): Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara, Dr. Scholl's For Her Cozy Cushions, belVita crunchy Breakfast Biscuits, Kiss Gradation Polishes, and Lindt LINDOR Milk Chocolate Truffles. 

Opening this box was a pregnant girl's dream! Chocolate! Extra comfort for shoes! Food!

During my weekend spa day, I took advantage of the nail polish and chocolate. I don't paint my fingernails because I'm horrible at it. In fact, I never paint my fingernails because I don't have the patience for the upkeep. However, I do like to paint my toenails and figured I'd try this product out that way. This trio of polishes is about as close as I will get to the nail art craze. It was very easy to create the desired effect, and while it may not look perfect, I'm pretty content with the results. 

There is no good way to take a picture of your toes.
Pardon the fact that pregnancy has turned my toes into Vienna sausages.
While my toenails dried, I indulged in the Lindt truffle. It was pure heaven. As an added bonus, our daughter-to-be clearly enjoys chocolate because she threw herself a party about an hour after I ate it. She was moving and kicking up a storm!

Come to mama!
I was most surprised that I liked the belVita breakfast biscuits as much as I did. The blueberry flavor was delicious! Of course, I took no picture of the food because I inhaled them. I had never tried these tasty little suckers before, but I will definitely give them a chance again. 

The cushions and mascara will come in handy for my work weeks. I don't often wear mascara, and I didn't notice anything spectacular about this kind (for me). I'm also severely deficient in understanding how to apply makeup properly - I only wear a tinted moisturizer and lip balm on a regular basis. My tootsies will appreciate any extra comfort now that I'm at week 25 of pregnancy. 

Overall? I was highly impressed with the products offered in this Vox Box. If a girl like me who has the most minimal get-ready routine can handle a mascara wand and multiple nail polishes, I can only imagine what you ladies with skills can create with beauty products. 

In full disclosure, I received these products complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster. I received absolutely no financial compensation for my review. The opinions here are all mine.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Spa Day for Mental Health

There's comes a time when you're just about to crack from all the craziness in your daily life. Between a full-time job, grad school schedule, R's schedule (it's football season, so there's always something going on!), church, and oh yeah, pregnancy and the prep for baby's arrival... life is pretty ridiculous. I do love to be busy, but then that point comes where I don't want to be busy anymore.

We looked at our schedules and discovered a Saturday where we had nothing planned. No work, no family plans, no errands that needed to be immediately done... this is rare, and I know it's going to be even more rare when this little one is born. I could have spent the day getting caught up on school work, house work, and whatever other work needed to be, or I could take the day to myself for a change. I swallowed my guilt about not getting work done and decided to do something for myself.

The best way to do that? An at-home spa day!

Here are my necessities for a spa day in my tiny little bathroom:

Spa day essentials ready to go!
1. Good reading material. I like to choose magazines when I'm relaxing. I snagged the October 2013 issue of Real Simple from my library for the insane price of just 10 cents.

2. A warm bath with Epsom salts and bubble bath. I'm definitely feeling the aches that come along with the 25th week of pregnancy. I try to take a warm bath at least once a week to relieve the aches. Adding Epsom salts and bubble bath up the relaxation.

3. Pedicure tools. I treat myself to a professional pedicure maybe once a year. Because I'm a cheapskate, I do my best to do my own pedicures. A pumice stone, exfoliating scrub, nail tools, and sometimes nail polish are all you really need.

4. Eyebrow tools. Again, I'm cheap and don't go to get my eyebrows done. It's been years since I've had them professionally groomed. I learned the basics of keeping my eyebrows in check, and that's sufficient for me. (However, I have an opportunity coming up to get my eyebrows groomed for free [thanks to my sister-in-law], and I think I'll have to take advantage.)

4. Trash TV. While painting my toenails, I like to indulge in trash TV. If it's on Bravo, I'll probably watch it.

5. Chocolate. Does this really need an explanation?

Along with the pampering, I spent the day doing whatever the heck I wanted to do. I stayed in bed 'til 9:30 a.m. I ate a delicious pancake breakfast. I crawled back in to bed to read through the pile of library books I have checked out. I had a slice of pumpkin pie. I may kick myself for putting off some of my responsibilities, but everyone needs a mental health day.

What do you like to do on your mental health days?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Big News!

Remember when I alluded to something pretty big back in July?

The cat's been out of the bag now for a few weeks (and by out of the bag, I mean we made sure everyone and their mother knew): We are expecting!

As I write this, I am 24 weeks pregnant with our daughter-to-be. Our little lady is scheduled to arrive in February. I'm excited, terrified, stressed, overwhelmed, and all-of-the-above in the emotions department.

This year (meaning 2013) has been a year for my husband and I to really let go and let God. As we have grown in our faith, we have really started to let our controlling natures go and put our trust in the Lord. It scares both of us because at our hearts, we are both planners and control freaks (although I take it to more extremes).

We purchased another vehicle earlier in the year (April), well before knowing that we would become parents in the immediate future. We celebrated six years of marriage (May). We found out we were expecting (June). We moved to accommodate our growing family (July). Of course, our focus now is preparing to go from a family of two to a family of three. We are feeling so incredibly blessed by these big life changes, and while the changes can be scary, we're embracing these new paths with the knowledge that God is right there at every step of the way.

Credit: superelahstic on tumblr

So that's the big news. I'm feeling energized to get things going around here; if nothing else, for a way to get lots of pregnancy thoughts out into the blogosphere. Pregnancy has made me crazy, and I know I can't be the only mama-to-be who feels like she's losing her mind.

Here's to life changes, big and small. My prayer is that we can handle it all.

(Like my sweet rhyme? Admit it, you do.)